In 2016, Shooter Jennings released what I think was a great experimental album. It takes the 1980’s New Wave, Pop, Synth, Country, and Alternative music and throws it together. It also features a few guests including Marilyn Manson.
The music is somewhat complex sounding, but it isn’t. I picked up guitar and found myself playing right along with the music. It has a lot of great melodies and electric beats to the tune of Country music. Only Shooter could pull this off.
The music itself is very tight, rich, distinctive, and creative. You can tell this was a well thought out album. I will be honest, it can be a bit overwhelming. If you’re into Country, but not Alternative music then walk away. As for me, this album is killer.
From Here To Eternity
I’m Left You’re Right She’s Gone
Born To Die
The Neverending Story
Finally, after years of looking for this album, I finally was able to get a hold of it. The album which was shelved in 1994, was released in 2009. I was very excited to hear it for the first time. Now, I went into this album with no expectations since I knew it featured a brand new singer. Because, when I think of the Four Horsemen, I think of Franky Starr.
And after my first listen to it, all I have to say is WOW! What happened? A totally new sound for a new band, as Haggis and Dave Lizmi are the two only original members of this Rock n’ Roll band.
Now, keep in mind that this wasn’t intended to be a record. So, when listening to it, you’ll notice several song styles. Some songs are hard hitting Blues, while other have a very strong Country like sound. It has a lot of good Blues riffs and lot’s more slide guitar than their entire catalog put together. So, when breaking down this album down, it feels very soulful and melodious. There is a lot of good harmonies on this record. This album does loose the hard hitting AC/DC raw power overdrive, going into the direction of the more mellow sounding Black Crows.
The sound quality is pretty good. The music was polished up as best as it could to make this into a record. So, you’ll hear some minor differences from track to track while in play. Another thing you’ll notice, is that some of the tracks seem to be out of place, but it isn’t anything to take away from the quality of the album.
The musicianship is very good. You have the new vocalist Tim Beattie who plays harmonica and lap steel. His vocals are very strong on the opening traditional track “Amazing Grace.” You have guitarist Dave Lizmi & Haggis, bassist Duane D. Young and drummer Lez Warner. The instrumentation is very well balanced. It’s rhythmic and engaging. Hell, there are even some well written banjo lines.
Amazing Grace (Traditional)
Dollar A Minute
South Of The Line
The Bed Went Cold On Me
Lay Your Trouble Down
Trailer Park Boogie
Amazing Grace Reprise
In 1989, The Hangmen released their first record. I was already into this band when I heard their contribution to the Scream LP which was an underground music club in Los Angeles. The song “Rotten Sunday” was pretty cool. I was very pleased to discover these guys, as this type of music wasn’t being played on airwaves. The band was made up of guitarist Billy Catterson, vocalist and guitarist Bryan Small, drummer Lenny Montoya, and bassist Johnny D. Holliday.
Musically, this album has lots of Blues influence with some Country as well as a small dash of Punk. So, don’t let that cover photo fool you. This is the farthest thing from Glam Metal that was hitting the LA scene. It’s very raw and power driver. The entire album has some very tuneful and interesting melodies. The vocals are very distinctive. The instrumentation is well balanced, rhythmic, and smooth. It’s a shame that this band didn’t get more National attention, than what it did. But with Grunge getting ready to take over the airwaves, the Hangmen would more or less get pushed to the wayside. If you’re into the smaller club scene music, I would recommend you trying the Hangmen out.
Desperation Town 3:05
Coal Mine 2:00
Walking In The Woods 3:35
Tell Me What You Want 2:51
It’s Over For You 3:32
Last Drive 2:51
My Way 2:47
Rotten Sunday 3:44
Kiss From You 3:29
Cry Cry Cry 2:31
Slow Death 3:38
In 1988, Eric Ambel released his first solo record. For those who never heard of his music, think back to 1981 with Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.” He was the guitarist on that album. He has also worked with Steve Earle in recent years. For me, I happened to stumble across this cassette shortly after it’s release.
I was blown away by the quality of the music. Eric proves that he can play Rock n’ Roll, Country, and Blues. He has a decent enough voice to carry a tune, and also proves to be a great lead guitarist. His voice is distinctive and some may be turned off by it. The entire rhythm section with bassist Lou “Alou” Whitney, drummer Ron “Wrongo” Gremp, and guitarist Donnie “D.C.” Thompson really produce some great tempos and melodies. Also pianist Joe “Planet” Terry proves that his keys are on fire when needed.
Musically, this is close to a Neil Young style guitar mixed with Georgia Satellites Band blended with Steve Earle. That’s why it’s hard to classify this into a single genre of music. One minute, the sound can be heavy and Bluesy and the next minute it can be soft and sound along the lines of Country or Rockabilly. It’s very creative, sharp, full, and rich. The song writing is the same way. It’s very powerful. I love full backing vocals.
If You Gotta Go, Go Now 2:59
Total Destruction To Your Mind 4:27
The Girl That I Ain’t Got 0:50
Forever Came Today 3:25
30 Days In The Workhouse 3:08
Power Lounger Theme 3:24
Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend 4:02
I Waited For You 3:01
Next To The Last Waltz 1:57
Loose Talk 3:56
You Must Have Me Confused 4:10
Vampire Blues 2:28
After Kix took a break, guitarist Ronnie Younkins put together a Country and Blues Rock band. The band consisted of bassist Zak Mabie, drummer Aaron Isaacs, and guitarist Rich Moxley. In 2005, the debut record “Cheap Guitars & Honky Tonk Bars.” The debut also featured drummer Sam Stilwell and Kix drummer Jimmy Chalfant, among other musicians.
The music structure is really good. It’s got a lot of soulful guitar work from the leads, fills ins, slides and riffs. Ronnie Younkins is like an Izzy Stradlin as Izzy is to Guns n’ Roses. The rest of the band is also top notch. There’s a lot of great bass and drumming. Musically, there is a lot of nice mellow tempos and a great rhythm section. Some good vocal work. The song writing is very good.
1 Cheap Guitars & Honky Tonk Bars 3:39
2 Wrap Yourself In Glamour 3:09
3 Cheatin’ Kind Of Woman 3:08
4 Can’t Be Lovin’ You 3:36
5 I’m Goin’ To Pieces 4:35
6 Givin’ Up On You 4:34
7 Glimpse Of Soul 5:40
8 My Baby Up And Left Me 6:13
9 I’ve Been So Lonely 3:14
10 Subway To Success 3:05
11 Ya’ Gotta’ Lotta’ Nerve 5:00
1977 and after scraping the Homegrown project, Neil Young released some of that material on “American Stars ‘n Bars.” This outstanding record is among one of my favorite Neil Young records. So you when I saw this on vinyl, I quickly picked it up. His backing band Crazy Horse is aided by the Bullet Band.
The result, is an record that pulls from the heaviness of Crazy Horse, mixing with Country Rock and a tad bit of Folk. That equals an album that is super raw, rich, tuneful, and melodious. I love the harmony and the feel of the tempo. It’s both sloppy and simple. The vocal work on the chorus is amazing. This is one of those albums that could have been one big hit. Although, as time has gone by “Like A Hurricane” is the one song that has stood the decades and has been a favorite at concerts.
The musicianship is at it’s best. From the steel guitar to the fiddle for that Country sound to the heaviness of riffs and lead solos that we call Hard Rock. It’s all well balanced and all accounted for here.
A1 The Old Country Waltz
A2 Saddle Up The Palomino
A3 Hey Babe
A4 Hold Back The Tears
A5 Bite The Bullet
B1 Star Of Bethlehem
B2 Will To Love
B3 Like A Hurricane
This great 1973 debut release by Ozark Mountain Daredevils to me is a forgotten gem. It was also the band’s most successful release. The entire album is brilliant with the elements of Country and Rock blending together to form a unique Southern Rock sound with a dash of Folk.
The instruments are very rich with tight grooves. The overall sound is very rich and can be very heavy even without electric instruments. The melodies are perfectly done. The harmonies are tasteful. Nice even tempos with tons of complex chords. The song structures are amazing from the opening to the ending. You can hear every instrument at work from the foreground to the background. Meaning, the softness of the fiddle to the Jew harp. Song writing is very good even those songs that are corny, but sound very good like “Chicken Train.” This album as rich it is in sound is crystal clear. That is because of all that musicianship which is great.
“Country Girl” – 3:16
“Spaceship Orion” – 3:11
“If You Wanna Get to Heaven” – 3:04
“Chicken Train” – 3:37
“Colorado Song” – 5:05
“Standin’ on the Rock” – 3:54
“Road to Glory” – 4:55
“Black Sky” – 3:08
“Within Without”– 4:25
“Beauty in the River” (John Dillon) – 3:55